We know that modern forms of streaming are really taking hold when the suits in Washington turn to Periscope and Facebook to stream their activities on the floor of the House of Representatives, rather than the traditional route of C-SPAN and journalists. But that’s what happened today, when House Democrats staged a sit-in to force a vote on gun control laws, and Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan cut the C-SPAN feed as Deadline reports. C-SPAN stands for Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network, and it was created as a public service in 1979 to give the people of the United States insight into what was happening in their government.
When House Democrats took a seat on the floor, the live C-SPAN coverage began generating a lot of popularity throughout social media, and possibly to stem some of the support for the other side, the leader of the Republican side decided to cut the cameras.
The sit-in protest from Democrats began when Representative John Lewis of Georgia made a speech on the floor of the House, demanding a vote on a pair of gun control bills. After his words, he and a group of other Democrats sat down on the floor in protest. Some of the other Democrats involved included Representative Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts and Steve Israel from New York.
According to The Wrap, Paul Ryan turned off the cameras and insisted that he would turn them on when the Democrats stopped inhibiting House business. But rather than comply, House Democrats took to social media to continue to voice their protest, and according to Deadline, C-SPAN used footage from Facebook and Periscope and aired it on their network when they couldn’t get their cameras turned back on, although according to The Wrap, technically it is against House rules to broadcast from the floor. Similarly, as Deadline reports, news networks were pitching in as well, feeding information to C-SPAN.
House Democrats also took to Twitter and Instagram, sharing their protests and experiences, generating the hashtag #NoBillNoBreak:
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) June 22, 2016
— Kat (@thekatosaurus) June 22, 2016
Not to be outdone by the Democrats, Republicans responded on social media as well:
The House cannot operate without members following the rules of the institution, so the House has recessed subject to the call of the chair.
— AshLee Strong (@AshLeeStrong) June 22, 2016
Senior House GOP aide explains why the cameras are not on in the House chamber for the Dem sit-in: pic.twitter.com/TIlZNFtyNI
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) June 22, 2016
As of this article being published, the Democrats are still sitting-in, and according to CNN, they are determined to remain until Republicans agree to vote on the gun control bills before the July 4th recess.
No matter the actual political debate at hand, it’s tough to ignore the fascinating, live stream way that this Washington drama played out. It demonstrated the power and reach of things like Periscope for disseminating information, even via what we still consider traditional media, and it showed the possibilities that live streaming and apps like Periscope can and will have on our media consumption in the future.